Wednesday, June 21, 2017

POV By Bonnie Le Hamilton


POV stands for point of view, or rather where the person is standing to view a scene. If you’re talking about a place it could be a scenic lookout, but even then, by looking at the same spot from a different direction or distance, you can see something different.

I actually know of a spot, where, when driving a particular road, you’ll see up ahead on the left what looks like a face formed in rock, but as you get closer, that formation will spread out until there is no recognizable face at all. At a distance, the formation appears to be much narrower than it actually is, and only small protrusions of the longer formation can be seen from a distance. And those outcroppings combined with what is visible of the formation appear to be a face.

Prospective makes a huge difference. The same goes with what we are writing in our stories. And I know I’ve said this before, because it can make a big difference. Generally, as writers we tend to lean toward writing a scene in the POV of the character with the most to lose. Essentially, we write a scene in the POV the character with the strongest feelings, in doing so we must recognize that the other characters who view that same scene will view it differently.

Not because of where they are standing, but because of how they are feeling. All of us filter what we see and experience through our own emotions, so each of us experience the same event differently, because we feel them differently.

And just because one character doesn’t like what happens, doesn’t mean another can’t hate the event too, but for totally different reasons. And to say one characters feelings are immaterial is ludicrous. The feelings of one character doesn’t cancel out the feelings of the other, even if you are only showing one POV, both characters have feelings. 

I think the romance novels which have the “he said/she said” scenes depict this quite well, and I’m certain I showed it myself in a phone conversation scene I wrote years ago. In that, I included each character’s feelings to what they were saying and hearing. It was a simple back and forth, but it wasn’t they’re words which told the story it was their thoughts.

Each of them viewed what was being said differently, because they each felt different about it. That isn’t to say one point of view is wrong and the other is right, because they are both correct.
The event is the same, but the emotions are different, and one interpretation of the event doesn’t cancel out the other interpretation because everyone bases the interpretation on their feelings, not on the event itself.

Someone once told me that sometimes you could learn a lot about a character writing a scene from that character’s prospective instead of the one you have. I think that for some it will be an eye opener, just like when we try to see real events from the prospective of someone else. If we do it right, we see the difference and come to understand the other person better, if we do it wrong, the gulf remains.

In writing, we must at least visualize the feelings of every character involved, so that we show their reactions correctly. It is by far not the whole picture, but it is at least some of it.


Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mom’s Big Day by Konnie Enos

Being a mother isn’t the easiest job in the world. There is there no effective guidebooks covering everything so you are pretty much doing just about every single job you can think of all at once. You are also on duty twenty-four/seven from the time you have your first child until the day you die.
As a mother I think the hardest part is raising well-adjusted, capable, human beings. That alone takes a great deal of effort and you’re almost completely on your own.
There are tons of books out there on parenting. And there will probably be lots more. And it would be easy to find parenting books that didn’t agree with each other, or with tips and ideas that really don’t work for your family.
Why?
I’m going to repeat myself now. No two people are exactly alike. You can’t find answers in books because there isn’t anybody else exactly like “Jonny”.
Don’t get me wrong. Those parenting books can help. Glean what you can from them, but because each child is an individual, you just have to figure out each of your children to know what works and doesn’t work with them and for your family.
That’s the hard part, and time consuming.
You spend twenty or thirty years putting all your time and effort into raising these kids, hoping for the best, praying they turn out okay and then just waiting to see the end results. That’s all you can do, wait and see how it all turns out.
You watch them as they grow up and always wonder if you are doing things right. If maybe you should handle something differently.
They go through their rough spots, their teenage rebellion, and you’re positive you’re not doing it right. They have problems in school or making friends and you wonder what else you can do or what you did wrong. It never gets easier because every bump in the road you wonder what you did wrong and what you need to change to make things better.
But dealing with another human being means they have a roll in how things turn out too so you can never tell what the outcome will be. With your first born you could just take away the TV, but your second born doesn’t mind spending hours alone in their room. Each child is different. So it’s hit and miss, a learn as you go experience, raising kids.
But one things for sure they are probably not going to come right out and tell you how to raise them or that you are doing things right. That’s why you have to wait and see how they turn out.
My children are getting to the age where I can start to see how they are going to turn out. My oldest will be getting married soon and her two sisters are in college. (My boys are in high school.)
But the real test is seeing how they do raising their own kids. We’re clearly not there yet.
But the other day I had two separate conversations with my two daughters still at home. I don’t remember how either one started other than I was driving each one somewhere, or really what we were talking about to begin with. I also know that I never mentioned my first conversation to the second girl. 
But at some point both my daughters said, “You got it right, Mom.”
I raised them right. I did a good job. Made my day.
Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Write What You Know by Bonnie Le Hamilton



Writers the world over have probably been told a time or two to write what they know. I heard it a lot in high school, and at some point, I began to wonder how any author could come up with more than one story, if authors can only write what he or she has experienced personally. To my mind, even all those years ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a decent story, if I had to stick with only things I’d personally experienced.

I mean I did try. My two novels dating back that far have a heroine who was two years behind in school. That was something I did know. And in one of them, I originally had a scene where the hero and heroine meet while watching a pair of swans taking off in flight from a place called The Oxbow, it’s on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

The setting exists, and that pair of swans did once take off in flight, but there had only been one person standing on the bridge above watching — one young lady. Me.

And, just so you know, that’s one sight I will never forget.

But even as I wrote both of these stories, I felt like I wasn’t really writing what I know. Yeah sure, I’d seen those swans myself, and yeah sure, I had been two years behind in school, but neither of those characters were twins. I’m a twin, I know what being a twin is like. And yet, while I have had characters that are twins, I’ve yet to write a story where the heroine is a twin.

And I’m still not sure why.

Then I discovered Dick Francis.

Now anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of his. I have been for years, but well after reading a couple of his books, I started thinking he must have led a fantastical life, considering all the careers he knew so much about. I was beginning to wonder how I could ever write anything when I had such limited experience. Then I learned a few things about him personally.

Number one, he had been a jockey, which explains why horse racing plays such a major role in many of his stories, but he’d also been in a pilot in World War II, explaining his stories where the hero is a pilot. But he never lost a hand; he never suffered the injury his character Sid Haley suffered nor have I ever discovered any information on him saying he was a fraternal twin like his character Kit Fielding.

And what of the artist living on a Scottish mountainside? Or the wine merchant, or the glassblower, and oh so many other characters. He didn’t do all those things! It was physically impossible for one man to have that many careers in one lifetime.

So how did Dick Francis do it?

Research! From what I’ve read of him, he’d interview people in those fields, picked their brains for details, or even follow them around for a few days. And his writing shows that knowledge, making each novel interesting and fresh.

So the take away is, write what you know, but don’t limit yourself to personal experience. Go out there and find the information you need to make your story realistic!


Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Animal Characters by Konnie Enos



Recently we were discussing using animals/pets in our stories. Bonnie mentioned she has them in a number of hers but I can only come up with two of mine that do, and only one of those has indoor pets. They both start on farms.
Considering I have a house full of animals, Bonnie found it surprising I didn’t incorporate them more into my stories.
Since we’ve moved into this house, a little over twelve years ago, we’ve develop something of a menagerie here. Dogs, cats, mice, Guinea pigs, hamsters, and parakeets. All of which have personalities all their own.
My own Mabel insists on joining me in the bathroom than stands, with her back to me, staring at the door until I open it. I haven’t decided if she’s standing guard or simply doesn’t like closed doors, but then she doesn’t do that when the bedroom door is closed. Maybe it’s the small space?
My husband’s dog will cower at loud noises. So the Fourth of July will find him either shivering in our bed or cowering under my husband’s desk. Though he could find another place to hide if he doesn’t feel safe enough there. The other day he climbed in our daughter’s bed and laid on her considerable amount of hair because something scared him. Took forever to get him off because we couldn’t find Dad.
Then there is said daughter’s own dog. He doesn’t like loud noises either. One time a neighbor kid was over here and he had a balloon.
You guessed it. Somehow that balloon popped, and near Gunner.
That poor boy was so terrified we could see the whites of his eyes. It was all I could do to hang on to him while yelling for someone to run for my daughter who was at the neighbor’s house.
Thankfully one of the boys visiting here ran fast to get her from his home where she was visiting with his sister.
One of our previous dogs (Rusty died nearly three years ago) was really laissez-faire. He was our largest dog and at the time we had two cats. He walked into this house and his whole attitude was like, “Oh you live here, I live here now too.” He was a huge sweet heart and he really loved our one cat.
Anyway as I was thinking about this total lack of animals in my stories, I thought of all the personalities of our pets. Each and every one of them, large and small.
And my one overriding thought was, “I can see how “The Incredible Journey” could be written.”
Including animals in your stories isn’t just giving your character a pet, but creating another character for your story.
They need a name, a description and a personality.
And just like with humans, no two are exactly alike.
My one daughter has now had two Guinea pigs. One really loved his green vegetables and loved being held and would pull on her zipper every time. Her current one doesn’t mind being held and petted, but doesn’t pull zippers and much prefers his fruits to his vegetables.
Even our dogs, each and every one has been different. You can get some idea of their temperament and personality from what bred they are, but that is never the whole picture. Just like with humans, you have to get to know each one individually.
I believe that’s why I don’t put more animals in my stories. I already have enough characters in them.
But then writing another story similar to “The Incredible Journey” might be fun too.
What do you think?

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Writing Gene



Writers abound in my family; poets, journalist, and just plain writers, there are lots of us, most of my siblings, several cousins, Father, Mother, grandmother, aunt. For years, we’ve talked about writing being in our genes, and I believe I’ve found the proof. (Well except for my mother and grandmother, they only married men on that line.)

I was online looking at my family tree and the name Shakespeare jumped out at me. (I’ve always been a big fan.) Then just a couple generations later, I find a Shakespeare who lived in Stratford on the Avon! So I opened another window and looked up The Bard’s birthday, and the fellow I was looking at was older then him. So I looked up The Bard’s father’s name, and it wasn’t Richard, the name I was looking it, but well Richard was enough older then good old William that I decided to check who Richard’s kids were, well of course I did know one, the one I come from, but when I checked, the first child listed was John!

That was Shakespeare’s father’s name. And yes, when I checked who John’s children were, William was there — the William Shakespeare, picture and all!

The fellow I descend from was John’s little brother, but that still means, William Shakespeare is a distant cousin of mine! Writing really is in my genes.

Now to go back to my WIP, I have a lot of editing to do. After all, I have a rather auspicious heritage to live up to.


 Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Of Bras and Other Monstrosities by Konnie Enos

Everybody is different.
Yeah, I know, I’m a broken record.
My husband has a stuffed full closet of clothes and every morning when he gets up he jumps into his clothes, including shoes, almost before he does anything else. Every day. Even when all he is going to do is walk across our room and get on his computer.
Me? Are you kidding? Why get dressed if I don’t have to?
Once upon a time I went rounds with my husband because of my tendency to stay in my pajamas all day. It is often used as a sign of depression so he was understandably concerned.
I finally had him step into our walk-in closet, look around and tell me what he saw. It took some coaching but he finally saw what I already knew.
Our closet at the time had two long bars on each side as you walked into it. I figured his and her sides and put clothes away accordingly. My husband, however, has never understood this his and her space or that a closet can be organized. That and the fact he simply had more than I did meant his clothes overflowed onto my side. I also had a selection of our children’s Sunday best clothes hanging there. About eighty percent of the closet was full of clothes that wasn’t mine.
I pointed out that dressing everyday meant doing my laundry far more often than I already was and since I was already doing several loads a day, well, I didn’t need or want to do more.
 So my husband and kids have gotten used to my non-clothes hog ways and not getting dressed every day. Even now when I have more than three outfits to my name they know I have no plans to go anywhere simply because I’m not dressed.
Of course it isn’t really to save time on keeping them clean. Bras and shoes are monstrosities. Abominations to be endured. Preferably for the shortest period of time possible. And clothes? Only the most comfortable. I’ve never worn jeans of any kind simply because I don’t find them comfortable.
Keeping all this in mind, yesterday morning my husband returned from taking our sons to school to find me up, dressed and reaching for my shoes.
What would you be thinking at that moment?
He asked me, “Do you have errands to run?”
Now mind you we had talked before he took the boys off to school. Yes, I realize it was early and he may have been half asleep, I certainly wasn’t awake. I was in fact still lying in bed with my eyes closed, but I know I told him I had no plans for the day.
I looked at him like he was crazy, thinking he’d clearly forgotten the obvious. When he didn’t immediately realize his error I said, “No. I have a dog.”
I’m still laughing about.
He’d clearly forgotten I’d recently acquired a dog who likes her daily walks. Good exercise for both of us.
And don’t worry, the shoes came right back off as soon as I returned. If I’d been at all uncomfortable I would have changed back into my nightgown. I really didn’t have anywhere to go.
But even Mabel, who I’ve only had for about a month now, knows when I get my shoes one on I’m going outside. She even knows what it means when I grab my purse and keys.
Smart dog.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Bane Of Writers by Bonnie Le Hamilton

  









In centuries past scribes everywhere groaned and complained about worn nibs and ink splatters. Even to this day, writer’s who prefer pen and ink, complain when their pen stops working or they run out of paper. (I’ve never known a true writer to ever be without a pen, but even I’ve run out of paper, once in a while.)

But it is an age old problem, needing to write, wanting to write, and not being able to write due to mechanical error. In days gone by a quill nib failing meant you either had a spare, or you had to go find a new one.

I don’t know how hard that would be, but I do know not all feathers will work as quills. And even if you found one, it did require work to shape the nib. And the invention of pens didn’t improve things all that much. Back then you had to fill the pens with ink by yourself. A messy job from what I’ve been told. But modern pens run out of ink, with no way to refill them. Having spares does work, of course. But you can’t always bring the spars with you.

I recently had a pen give out on me while I crossing things off my grocery list. It was the only pen I had with me. And I usually have spare on me, that time I didn’t.

Though when it comes to writing stories, I prefer using my computer, so the problem is — what happens when one key on a computer isn’t working, as it should? If I had a desktop, it would be easy to replace a keyboard. Just unplug the malfunctioning one and plug in a new one. But I don’t have a desktop I have laptop. The keyboard is replaceable, except it will require time in the shop —time where I won’t have my lone computer.

I do have pen paper, I use those for all sorts of lists, but I also have horrible handwriting, and carpal tunnel syndrome, writing a lot, by hand, would be painful, being without my computer for a couple days isn’t going to fun either.

Though by the time this is posted, I might just have it back, or at least soon after. 


Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Dinner Surprise by Konnie Enos

Image result for family dinner pictures
For the last couple of years in my household it has become increasingly harder to have a family dinner.
Now I know what you’re thinking.
I have teenagers. They are always busy and would rather spend time with their friends.
No. That isn’t the problem.
Around here the problem is diets.
No. Not the losing weights type of diets, though I am attempting to lose weight, but rather the medically necessary types of diets.
There are six people in this household. Fully half of us have restricted diets. And none of our diets are the same. So to get a meal on the table I would have to accommodate four different meal plans in order to make sure everyone had something they could eat (well, and the boys would eat). So family meals just went by the wayside. It was too hard to accommodate everyone.
Now even when I do try to fix dinner for the family my sons would rather get something for themselves, or only eat part of what I fixed (example: the entre but not the side dishes I fixed to go with it, or the side dishes but not the entre.) While my daughters have to pick and choose. One can’t have the meat, like at all. She’s now vegetarian, not to mention all she’s allergic too. And the other one can only have certain food, on a very short list. Believe me her medical condition is not fun.
So the other night when I went to make dinner I wasn’t thinking about what all my kids could eat. In fact, I only asked my husband what he’d want for dinner. Once I had his order, I proceeded to cook it.
He requested baked potatoes.
Okay, I’ll cook four, then we can have leftovers if none of the kids want them.
He also wanted hamburgers. Yeah, weird combination with baked potatoes, but okay. I went with four again. Either leftovers or maybe a kid or two.
He desired green beans too. Okay. I fixed dinner.
When everything was cooked. I fixed two plates. One for me and one for my dear husband.
I told my youngest son he could have any of the food he wanted.
He took one of the hamburger patties, got some bread and, well, made a hamburger.
I told my youngest daughter there were baked potatoes if she wanted one. She took one
I told my other son there was food.
He did the same thing his younger brother did.
Then my oldest child at home came out and her sister pointed out the last potato. I confirmed she could have it if she wanted.
Finally my husband came out to get his food.
I looked around the table.
“Unbelievable. I actually made dinner for all of us.”
My oldest child and boys never touched the green beans. My boys never touched the potatoes and my girls never touched the meat. So four hamburger patties and four baked potatoes fed six people.
I was amazed.
If you’d been in our house anytime in the last two years and seen the struggle it was to get a family dinner on the table you would understand why I found that simple meal so amazing.
The other thing I’ve found amazing this week is my baby is now a whopping sixteen years old. Not only that, but that big baby boy has turned into the biggest family member. Well, our immediate family, so it wouldn’t be that hard to be the tallest, though he is 5”9’. Nice to have someone to reach the top shelves and change the lightbulbs for me.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Doing Book Reviews by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Earlier this week C. Hope Clark (editor of Funds For Writers, and author of several books) posted on Facebook about buying books, not taking freebies. She’s posted stuff like this before, and she has a valid point. Publishers only pay Authors pennies on the dollar, so unless they are a big name like King, Rowling, or Patterson, they’re not getting a huge sum of money.

(And please don’t use this to argue in favor of self-publishing, because without the backing of a publishing company to distribute your books, you have to do that yourself. You won’t be able to get your books into more than a handful of bookstores, just those within a few miles of your or your family and friends, if even that, since some won’t take indie or self-published works.)

What Hope was actually saying is that as authors ourselves we should never deprive our fellow authors of money. We should never accept a free book, unless we give a review of that book. But that isn’t always easy to do.

I once accepted a free book that was so awful I never read past page 18, and I never did a review because I couldn’t get past the fact that I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings. Unfortunately, she stopped talking to me after that. But really, I couldn’t finish it, how was I supposed to review it?
Then there’s the time I learned my niece had published a book. I went immediately to her site where she had a sample chapter available and read it, instantly learning it wasn’t my type of novel. It’s a fantasy. (Look it up. Fatal Heir by L.C. Ireland.) I also realized that it was well written, engaging, and possibly something Konnie would like, so I did two things. I pre-ordered the reader version of it (my niece deserves the money no matter what), and I contacted Konnie drawing her attention to the site. Within the hour, she also pre-ordered the book.

After Fatal Heir actually came out, there was a time when Konnie informed me that her youngest daughter had swiped her reader to read LC’s novel. I posted about this on Facebook because my niece (on my side of the family) swiped her mother’s reader to read a book written by niece (on my husband’s side of the family). It was funny at the time.

And while I do have the novel, I did buy it after all, I have never read more than that sample chapter. I know its excellent writing, and an intriguing story. It did almost draw me in, but I’m not much into fantasy. I keep telling myself I have read some, and I really should read it, it is after all my niece’s novel, maybe one day. Until then, whenever I learn someone likes fantasy, I mention LC’s book. It’s the least I can do, and word of mouth might not be a written review, but it is a review.

I also am poor, so buying a lot of books isn’t in the budget. I do buy, and I sometimes do buy new, I just bought a new Donald Maass book yesterday, but most of the time I go to the library. Some authors I like, I just can’t afford their books, even on a reader.

Maass I can afford, Francis I can’t. I go to the library to read Dick and or Felix Francis novels. And anyone who knows me knows I like their books. I talk about it all the time. Again, not a written review, but it is still word of mouth; I think it should still count. And I think the fact that I have mentioned this on Facebook a time or two should count too. Even if it isn’t an eloquent paragraph or two extolling all the virtues of their writing, it is still a review.

Don’t you agree?


Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Fur Babies and other such family members by Konnie Enos

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As I’ve mentioned before, we have dogs in this house.
Now being dog owners we tend to have noisy greetings when someone comes to our door. It’s impossible for anyone to ding-dong-ditch and run away before we can open the door and find them running away. (It helps that there is only one way to get off our property and there isn’t any place to hide while you make that rather exposed dash.)
It’s also impossible to get into the house without enthusiastic dogs greeting you and or trying to get out the front door.
For this reason when we return to the house we play what my daughter refers to as “soccer”. An exercise in blocking furry family members from exiting the house. Generally when you open the front door you have to expect to see one or more black noses.
Recently I was returning to the house with one of my daughters and fully expected at least two black noses at the door. Her three-legged dynamo and my energetic little lady. And quite possibly my husband’s big ball of fluff. There was also the possibility of my other daughter’s yellow cannon ball. Though her tiny guy was least likely he still might show up too.
I cautiously opened the door.
No noses.
I opened the door further.
No furry family members.
I finally opened the door all the way and stepped into the house, glancing though the clearly empty front room and kitchen and all the way down the hall to the back door.
Not one person or furry family member.
“Notice the decided lack of greeting.”
Daughter walking in behind and closing the door. “Yeah. But I can hear them. They must be blocked by something.”
Clearly. The only door in the hallway not closed was the hall bathroom and that was no dogs land, strictly for the cat.
So they were either in a bedroom or the backyard.
As we moved down the hallway my other daughter opened her bedroom door spilling out her cannon ball and tiny guy plus her sister’s dynamo. As they came out one of my sons opened my bedroom door and my husband’s fluff ball ran out with my lady.
There was our usual and enthusiastic greeting.
What was I thinking about through that whole experience?
With all the writing I’ve done I’ve never once given any of my fictional families pets.
Why?
I don’t know.
I do know animals add another dynamic to the family experience.
And there are so many ways they could be included.
Are they part of the family or just a pet, or a working animal?
In my household our animals are part of the family.
If the family lived on a farm, their animals could likely be working animals.
If a person is disabled, their animal is more than just a working animal or a pet. Or at least that’s what I’ve heard.
The other thing to consider when writing stories with animals in them is that they all have their own personalities, just like humans do.
With as many pets as I have, I should consider adding pets to my stories.
It is food for thought.
Have you written stories with pets in them?
I’d write more but my little lady needs her walk.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.   

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Twin Stories by Bonnie Le Hamilton


The other day I saw, and shared, a post on Facebook 13 Insane Identical Twin Stories That Are Almost Too Funny To Believe http://www.rugzee.com/13-insane-identical-twin-stories-that-are-almost-too-funny-to-believe/. The only thing is, I didn’t find them funny or unbelievable.

In all but three instances in the whole article, similar things have happened to Konnie and me. The only exceptions were waving hi to our reflection (at least I’ve never done that, and Konnie’s never mentioned doing it either, so I’m assuming she hasn’t either), the intentionally switching to cheat stories (We never did that! Ever, would never have considered it.), and the boyfriend kissing the wrong twin one. (It’s a good thing too, since the first time I ever saw my brother-in-law, due to my husband being stationed clear across the country, they were already parents.)

Thankfully, the only time either Tom, or Jerry, have mixed us up was on the phone, and each time we can forgive them because in both those instances they were expecting the other twin to answer. Yeah, they got it wrong, but it was understandable.

And the closest we’ve come to a teacher mixing us up was that one April Fool’s Day when the teacher kept thinking we’d switched places but what really happened was just days before she’d changed the seating putting me near Konnie’s old seat and Konnie in my old seat. Or that time when I signed up for a class taught by a guy Konnie knew, who had asked her to take the class, but she couldn’t because of her work schedule.

When I walked in the class, he thought Konnie had made it after all and said so, calling me Konnie, and I told him, “Actually, I’m Bonnie.”

At which point he thought he’d been calling Konnie by the wrong name all along and sincerely apologized. Konnie’s roommate, who was with me, stepped in to inform him that he hadn’t until that minute met me and Konnie was indeed at work.

 And as for the intentionally switching to cheat scenario, we never did that, We did get accused of cheating once, but that wasn't a “switching places” tale, that was a “we’re twins, and we communicate with just a glance” tale. I looked at her and got the answer, and everybody who witnessed it knows I got the answer from just glance at Konnie. It happened. But I’d hardly call that cheating, since it was clearly accidental.

And I’m certain I’ve related that story before too. If I haven’t, just let me know.
Anyway, on a whole every story in the article is believable, since for the most part, similar things have happened to Konnie and me.

In fact, I’d say all those stories are common. Frankly, I would think stories of Twin ESP, which is a real thing, since that is how we got accused of cheating, would be more unbelievable than any of the common occurrences in the article, though all of them would make good fodder for any story involving identical twins.


Happy writing everyone. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Research by Carol Baldridge

Thank you, Bonnie Le and Konnie, for inviting me to be your first guest blogger. We three are readers and writers who use libraries, and I was a librarian for over 25 years, so I’d like to share some library lore with your readers.

No matter what kind of writing you do – fiction, non-fiction, essays, or even poetry -- somewhere along the line you will need to do some fact-finding and fact-checking. 

Fact-finding and fact-checking are better known as research. Research, ugh! That’s too often a dirty word that many writers don’t like to think about. But writing what you know goes only so far. Where does a writer begin to do research? Why, at the local public library, of course!

Here are some basic but very important things to know about your public library:

1. Your card -- Get acquainted with your local library and its librarians, Apply for a library card and keep it in good standing. Promptly pay any fines that accrue and pay for any lost library material. Renew your card when the time comes.

2. The reference desk -- Libraries have a reference desk where masters-degreed and specially-trained librarians will research questions for you and help you find what you need for your writing life. They will teach you how to search databases and how to use electronic and paper catalogues. Also, reference librarians all over the world are good sources for the names of and contact information for local experts and historians.

3. Reciprocal borrowing -- This means the patron travels to the book (or library materials). Visit and use the libraries all around you -- area public libraries, college/university libraries, museum libraries, corporate libraries, special libraries. Many will accept your library card as your admission ticket, or you might need a special permission slip from your home library.
Learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to identify and locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries or letters from the time period you’re researching). Be sure to take note of (photocopy!) the title and verso (backside of the title page) pages plus the primary sources listed in bibliographies, resource lists, and notes in secondary sources.

4. Interlibrary loan (ILL) – This means the book (or other library material) travels to the requesting patron. As mentioned in #3 above, learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries or letters from the time period you’re researching) at other libraries. A reference librarian will ILL them for you, so you can pick them up at your home library. If the item(s) are out of state, there will be a charge for mailing.

Remember -- DON’T SKIP THE LIBRARY RESEARCH! Many stories have been ruined when the writer didn’t do the needed research.

Happy writing – and researching!


Carol Baldridge

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Descriptions by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Not too long ago I saw a post on Facebook asking how to describe a character without a “standing in the front of the mirror” type scene, which any decent writer knows is a big time no-no. But it isn’t always all that easy, especially if you have only one POV. How would the POV character describe himself to the reader without standing in front of a mirror to do an assessment?

That isn’t easy to even to answer.

I have one story I’ve written were the reader learns the hero has red hair because he complains about how his whole family (whole community actually) has red hair and how boring it is. In the same story, the reader learns about the main character’s size because some other characters point out the size difference between him and another fellow his age, and he reflects on why he is understandably larger. The only other description given of him is the way he dresses, and that was in form of describing the dress code of his people to an outsider. (They’re aliens.)

At no point do I have this character standing in front of a mirror.

In another story of mine (an unfinished one), I show the reader the POV character’s appearance by having other characters react to it. Of course, the whole thing is in his POV, so he does inwardly react to their reaction, thereby the reader learns why people do have such a reaction, but my main character isn’t standing in front of a mirror describing himself either.

Generally, I find it easier to have at least two POV characters, so each of them can “assess” the other in their eyes when they first meet. Simple and easy, but then sometimes you need more, because there are always things a character isn’t going to take note of. Or maybe doesn’t need to.

I have a scene in yet another story of mine where the hero describes what he assesses to be a young boy climbing out of the passenger seat of his tow truck, which his employee had just returned to his garage. In that short paragraph, the reader learns about the description of this new character in the hero’s life, including said characters size, though not her gender.

Which brings me to another post I read this week about pronouns (and frankly I find this incomprehensible) but apparently it is now politically correct to use the plural pronoun “they” to describe an individual who prefers to remain androgynous. I even noticed an author using this incongruous pronoun to keep the sex of a character unknown to the reader.

And it makes me wonder if schools are even teaching grammar anymore at all. He, She, and It are all singular, They is plural. Personally, I would never want to be referred to as in it, but “they”?

And instead of keeping the reader in dark about a character’s gender don’t refer to that person as “they”! Keep the POV character in the dark too, or at least confused as to gender, which I’ve said I’ve done, but frankly, if I ever read something where an individual is referred by the pronoun “they” I’d probably stop reading the book. I might even consider it a wall banger. Such writing would certainly draw me out of the story, which we all know is a bed thing.

Yeah, I know I’m old fashioned, but I can’t be alone in this. Can I?


Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Busy is Relative by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Yesterday it took me most of the day to do a load of dishes then sweep and mop my kitchen, hall, and bathroom. Not that either is a big job. Of course, they aren’t. This isn’t a big apartment, and I do live alone. It’s just that I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and rest a minute or two. And even with all that resting, by the time I completed those tasks, I was a bit stressed; I didn’t finish my “to do” list.

Konnie didn’t finish hers either, but well, she rarely does. And she rarely does because none of her immediate family members recognize that she has more to do in her day then run people around to all their various appointments and activities. Let alone that she isn’t goofing off when she’s sitting at her computer. And I’m not even talking writing.

Konnie spends time doing online surveys, which nets her a little extra money every year, and she uses quicken to do the family finances, and all their various bank accounts are online too.

For me, I consider I have a busy day if my “to do” list has more than four items on it; Konnie would consider that a vacation. I seriously doubt her “to do” list ever has less than ten items on it. If mine had ten items on it, I’d included my shopping list. Even when I had a car, and was driving my sister-in-law around to all her appointments, my “to do” never had more than five things on it, and I considered it a hectic day if my sister-in-law had more than one appointment. (She only rarely had two appointments in a single day.)

Konnie would consider that a lazy day.

Busy is relative. What one person considers busy, another would consider lazy. Viewpoint and perspective change by who is seeing, or doing, what is going on. This is especially true in our stories.
Have you ever tried writing a scene from the POV of another character? It becomes a completely different story because that character will “view” the events in a way the original character didn’t. I actually have one scene I’ve written in two different POV’s but that’s because the main character didn’t notice some things his buddy did.

Viewpoint, and frankly attitude, changes the story. Has anyone else tried this? Written one scene from two POV’s? Do you see what I mean?


Happy writing everyone. J  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Twin Musings by Bonnie Le Hamilton

As the title of this blog states, Konnie and I are mirror twins. And as we’ve already mentioned in our posts, mirror twins are mirror opposites.

The foremost sign of mirror twins is one is a lefty and the other a righty. Well, I’m the righty. And a while back, Konnie and I got on the subject of can openers.

She doesn’t have a ton of counter space, and I thought it weird that she had an electric one (and to be honest, I don’t have an electric one because my husband never liked the possibility of not being able to open a can in a power outage). She insisted that it’s hard to open a can using a can opener designed for the predominately right-handed world.

At the time of the conversation, I had to take her word for it, but well, the last couple of weeks, I’m beginning to see her point. You see my right thumb has developed arthritis and it’s been bugging me, a lot. And she was not kidding when she said its dang near impossible for a lefty to work a can opener build for a righty.

 I’m seriously considering one of those newfangled battery powered can openers, which won’t take up my limited counter space.

I’m also thinking about how I might write a story where a character has to, at least temporarily, use the hand he isn’t used to using, for whatever reason, though I still don’t have a reason, or a character for that matter.

And as I’m writing this, I recall a scene from MASH, which Alan Alda did with his father. They were both playing doctors, and their bickering, a lot, they don’t like each other at all, then both of them are injured (one his left arm and other his right arm), and well they need to operate on an injured soldier to save his life, even though they are hurt. They end up having to do the surgery together because neither of them had the use of both hands.

That was quite a scene for me to remember it decades later.

Have any of you ever written in scene or story plot where a character has to deal with not being able to use a limb or maybe even one of their senses, at least temporarily?

Personally, I can think of a character I have with a broken leg, but that’s about the worst I’ve done. I really should try this idea. Anyone with me?


Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The New Racism by Konnie Enos

I recently came across an article online by Michael Cantrell about liberals and their desire to create a new tax (http://www.allenbwest.com/michaelcantrell/liberals-want-institute-insane-new-tax-white-people).
After reading what he had to say I found myself wondering at the audacity of liberals to think that such an idea could possibly help race relations.
How is signaling one group of people out based on something that is genetic and taxing them for it going to IMPROVE race relations?
Think about that for a moment.
IF your government decided your skin color meant you could afford to pay more in taxes, how are you going to feel about it? What is it going to do to these people who are living on welfare? In section 8 housing? Subsisting on WIC and SNAP benefits and just barely getting by?
Don’t tell me people fair skinned people aren’t poor. I’ve spent most of my life on welfare and living in subsidized housing. The home I live in now I got through Habitat for Humanity and is in a neighborhood that was historically a restricted poor black neighborhood.
Our finances might be better now but we still have months were the month last longer than our money does.
A tax like this is going to hurt my pocketbook.
And it’s not going to help the people with more pigmentation either.
I sincerely doubt the government would actually put this tax money to use in helping underprivileged people (clearly not since so many of them lack pigmentation).  
The goal of the liberals is to erase racism, but you can't do that by being a  racist.
Taxing people based on the amount of pigmentation they have is as bad as selling them as slaves based on the same criteria.
Just STOP judging people based on their genetics at all.
I think Michael Cantrell said it very well. I quote from his previously mentioned article:
“It’s time we acknowledge that yes, racism does exist, and yes, it’s a real problem, for EVERYONE. We should be committed to overcoming this obstacle to our unity. Doing so requires all people to begin focusing on the content of a person’s character rather than their outward appearance.
Punishing someone for their skin color is a step back, not a step forward, something that should be clear to anyone who uses the word “progress” to sum up their political philosophy.”
I’ve already posted a few times about racism and how we need to be a united country, not a divided one (my posts dated 5-20-15, 7-29-15, and 6-29-16). It’s time we as a nation started to work together and stop judging people by the amount of pigmentation they happen to have.
I’m going to end with my normal close because I hope it will help to make a better world.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.